This issue presents American and West European anthropological perspectives on recent events prior to the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia. Included are articles by anthropologists from Croatia and Serbia which deal directly with the war and its impact on their respective societies. The first group of essays should be understood as background to armed struggle involving violent death, destruction, and bereavement and those tragedies still in the making. The horrors associated with these events in this Balkan setting are unparalleled in Europe since World War Two. They do not have precise parallels elsewhere but bring to mind the sufferings of former communist states. As in late-1970s Cambodia and today in the Caucasus and Central Asia issues of conflicting national identities have been paramount. Religious and national conflicts also have parallels in non-communist areas. Events in Cyprus and Lebanon, in Liberia, Angola, Somalia and the Southern Sudan, as well as in Sri Lanka and Kashmir, are some examples. In sum, the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia are part of a late 20th century world-wide trend. These instances, although far from identical, involve military conflicts over control of territories inhabited by conflicting national groups. Such conflicts inflict severe privation on civilian populations assumed to be part of the arena of conflict. In some cases creation of a nation state is the proximate cause, in others, as in ex-Yugoslavia, conflicts occur within and between recognized national entities. This series of essays, while having important analogues to events elsewhere, is not primarily intended to be comparative but focuses on the Balkan case.
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